It has been another year of growth at the University of Florida Genetics Institute (UFGI). During 2016, we welcomed additional faculty members, bringing the total to 245. UFGI members represent seven colleges and 51 academic departments. Over the year, they brought in $133M in sponsored research support, filed 60 US patents and published 788 scholarly articles. Their work appeared in prestigious journals such as The New England Journal of Medicine, Science, Nature, and Nature Genetics.
The aim of the UFGI is to promote excellence in the areas of genetics and genomics at the University of Florida by: (1) building community, facilitating collaboration and creating opportunities for intellectual exchanges among investigators working in diverse taxonomic systems but with a common set of approaches in genetics and genomics, (2) supporting recruitment and retention of outstanding faculty in the areas of genetic and genomics, (3) supporting graduate education in the areas of genetics and genomics and (4) enhancing the ability of researchers at the University of Florida to compete for multidisciplinary research grants in the area of genetics and genomics.
Our Genetics & Genomics Graduate Program has been a particular source of pride. Last year saw three students earn their doctoral degrees, bringing the total number of graduates to 23. Our intercollegiate program continues to grow, with seven more students admitted in the current year and interviews already underway for the class of 2017. Last year we introduced the Kenneth and Laura Berns Award for Excellence in Genetics. This year it was awarded to Lara Ianov, a Genetics & Genomics graduate student.
Our students have also been recognized by external organizations for their research. Ana Caroline Costa Sá received the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics 2016 Presidential Trainee Award.
The 2016 program of our annual cornerstone event, The Florida Genetics Symposium, was the most successful yet. Taking place Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 2016, more than 500 people registered to attend– the most participants in the history of the event. The conference featured nearly a dozen other distinguished speakers, both from UF and other institutions. Approximately 100 posters were presented, with student and postdoctoral associates receiving awards for best poster presentations.
As part of our collaborative efforts with innovative faculty at other institutions, we continued our weekly seminar series with presentations from 13 internal and external speakers. The invited speakers reflect the broad, multidisciplinary mandate of the UF Genetics Institute. The seminars included outstanding investigators from the fields of Bioinformatics, Genomics and Cell Biology working on a variety of different species and model systems.
In August, UFGI hosted the third annual Phenotype Prediction Workshop. The objective of this workshop was to present recent results and theoretical developments of statistical models used to predict the phenotype of complex traits using genomic data. Presentations included studies from humans, trees, crops and livestock. The workshop attracted more than 100 on-campus participants, and was streamed live to over 300 online attendees from more than 30 countries.
Other outreach endeavors included organizing the second UFGI DNA Day event on the UF campus. The April celebration featured activities and contests marking the anniversary of the elucidation of the structure of the DNA molecule. Over 100 students and faculty attended, including a visit from President Kent Fuchs.